i’m going to tell you how foster care came to be for us and then next post i will tackle the questions i received on my instagram post.
In 2016 i asked craig to seriously consider us becoing foster parents.
i have always had a heart for children.
i was a busy babysitter in my teens.
i was a nanny for awhile and i had my own daycare way back when my first two kids were little.
i remember the first time i put a baby to sleep by myself – i was probably 10 years old and i was so proud!
growing up I had dreams of having a BIG family filled with biological kids and adopted kids.
“big family” to me back then meant 10 – 12 children.
i drew pictures of them… i named all of them… i thought about it all the time.
fast forward 20 years –
that is not the same idea/dream that my husband had for our family.
and it turns out that raising “just” five kids is decently challenging on a daily basis.
we did not agree on growing our family by adopting and i felt that the door was shut on discussing it furthur.
i prayed often for God to change him (ha ha ha!) but that if that wasn’t the best plan that he would change me so that we were both on the same page and growing together. (as if God needs my help…)
i would pray those words but at the same time i couldn’t imagine how the desire to help a child find a home would NOT be what God would want.
i wasn’t discontent with my family as it was – i just felt a strong pull towards helping kids in need on top of caring for my children at home.
foster care didn’t really enter my mind for the same reasons it probably hasn’t entered many people’s minds –
“it would be too hard.” “i would get too attached.” “i couldn’t give them back”
but after the door was closed (and locked?) on the adoption discussion… God began to change my heart.
He opened my eyes and heart to fostering in a whole new way.
i was driving by myself, i turned onto the gravel road just before our home and i had this thought so clearly “you CAN give them back. your kids are nearly grown. you don’t want to start completely over. a baby becomes a toddler. you CAN do this!”
it felt like God was saying He would be with me and that it was time.
the fear of foster care that i had experienced up to that day was GONE.
i felt peace about it. i felt confident in the Lord’s timing.
but… there are two people in this marriage.
over the next few months i brought up becoming a foster family several times and talby & annie did too.
they had been askting us to adopt or foster for many years.
when i would bring it up i kept going back to these points – we are loving parents. we have a stable home. we have enough money. we have enough time to help.
then one day while we were out on a walk he said “i guess if you really want to look into it – go ahead.”
happy tears came to my eyes because that sentence was HUGE!!!
game changing sentence!
i set out on my quest to find out about foster care in my area.
i talked to several foster moms over the phone.
i met with two different agencies to see what is involved and how to get started.
since i was so new to all of this, i asked if it was even a possibilty to only take in certain ages… is that allowed?
the answer was yes we could choose the ages of children we were willing to foster.
with our schedule as busy as it is i felt that taking in babies under one year was the best option for us.
babies go where you go and don’t really mind eating or sleeping anywhere.
and i truly love caring for babies!
after about two months of checking around we had our first meeting with one of the social workers for our agency.
it did not go the way i had hoped.
i was totally ready to get going but my husband was having a serious case of cold feet.
the social worker basically told us everything that could go wrong.
every. possible. thing.
it was pretty grim when you looked at it from that side.
i understand that she had to be realistic and honest about what we were getting ourselves into.
but i kept saying “now let’s remember… that situation wouldn’t happen with a baby” to bring us all back from scarytown.
but at the end he wouldn’t even schedule the next meeting.
i know my husband well enough that i did not bring up that meeting or foster care again for almost four weeks!
he likes to think about things very thoroughly.
he plans and saves and prepares and takes his time.
we are complete opposites. 🙂
we went on a date on new years day 2017 and over dinner i worked up the nerve to ask “can we talk about foster care again?”
i wasn’t afraid of him – i was afraid of the door being closed again… that i had gotten my hopes up for nothing.
i asked what he was having the most trouble with and in the end it was my heart being broken – that it would be too much for me emotionally.
he knows me & i love that.
i have soooo many feelings.
and i cry A LOT.
all my emotions – happy, sad, nervous, tired, angry, inspired, empathy – they all come with a side of crying in my world.
it’s annoying but i can’t make it stop.
i assured him that i was going to be ok.
i had the peace and confidence from God that this was the path to pursue.
he said he knew all his reasons to say no were not good reasons – too busy, too tired, not wanting to be woken up at night, past that stage of raising kids, wanting to go on trips with just me, or last minute date nights, etc. etc.
i can’t remember exactly what i said but this is close:
“i know you are worried that i will break but i am not afraid of that. I feel ready for this.
one positive thing about foster care is that it is not permanent. if it’s not a good fit for our family then we can stop!
if we do not do this then WHO WILL?! why do we expect anyone to help these kids if WE do not?
we are good parents with big hearts. we have the space in our home. we have the time and enough money.
because we are too busy? because it might hurt too much? because we will get too attached?
God does not call us to live in fear of being hurt. God calls us out and says he will be alongside us when we struggle and when we hurt.
he will carry that for us. it will be hard, our hearts will hurt but we will be okay.
even if the worst thing does happen – God will be there with us.
there are kids that need people to love on them.
he said he’d do it for me.
he is a protector and wants to keep all of his people away from harm of any kind.
i am so grateful for that amazingly comforting quality because i always feel safe with him.
but we also need to push through the fears and allow God to be our protector with hard stuff.
we can’t save ourselves. we can’t plan everything. we can’t control life and feelings and all of the outcomes.
i am not saying craig doesn’t want that too… i am saying he is more cautious than i am. 🙂
we started the MAPP classes shortly after that night.
to become licensed for any type of foster care (at least in kansas) you have to complete the MAPP classes.
these classes are free and usually provude childcare. we actually found an agency near us that came to our home and taught the classes privately because we live over 25 miles from a group class. That was so wonderful for us and our ridiculous schedule!
over the course of these classes i watched my husband’s heart soften & open up, seeing families in crisis in a whole new way.
i am pretty sure i’ve never been more attracted to him then when he was completing his MAPP homework!
it took us from January – September to complete the class, the home inspection and receive our license.
that timeline was mostly because our schedule/calendar is so full. It may not take others that long to finish.
we chose to be a foster family not foster-to-adopt.
we are licensed for 2 children ages 0-5 but plan to focus on infants.
there were several things we needed to do to pass the home inspection but nothing ridiculous… just precautions you’d want others to take if they had your child in their care like baby gates, handrails and cabinet locks.
i said no to four placements before we said yes to Tiny.
i hated saying no to helping any children but i have to think of what would be best for my family too.
going into this i knew we needed clear boundaries and to give myself permission to say no.
i prayed God would make it clear when it was the right fit and he did.
i was at a high school volleyball game when i got the call for Tiny.
and that was it – there was no hesitency – “YES we will take him!”
we drove to target after the game to buy a carseat, diapers & formula.
At 9:30 pm we picked up this itty bitty baby and drove him back to our home.
it was completely surreal.
and now here we are four months later!
i am so incredibly happy that we are on this new adventure of learning to love in new ways.
we knew this placement could possibly be many months and of course YES we are all attached to him!
but isn’t that the only way to be?! especially with an infant?!
we have to be all in – full hearts! this is such a crucial time for development in his life!
we have to love him with all we’ve got while he’s here.
when we bring children into our home they need to know that they’re important and worth our time and energy.
they need to feel safe.
we can’t change the situation that caused them to be in put into care. we can’t take away the past. we can’t guarantee the future.
but while they are here with us – we can love them and provide safety & security.
everyone asks me everywhere i go “are you going to adopt him?”
most children in foster care have families that want to be together but mom or dad need some time to get out of a tough spot, learn new parenting skills, need help to get back on their feet or tools to deal with addiction.
foster care allows the children to be cared for while those things are happening for the parents.
the goal is to help keep families together… getting kids back with their parents whenever possible.
if after all measures have been attempted and the parents are still not able to provide a safe home then more permanent decisions begin to made.
of course there are cases that are severe and reuniting with parents shouldn’t happen at all for the children’s safety.
so… foster care does not automatically mean every child is up for adoption.
a foster parent needs to be a team player in reunification with the parents, supporting the efforts parents are making and be willing to see that people can change.
it is not always easy but if it all works… it’s worth it.
since this is our first placement, it’s all new to me – the ins and outs of the system, the visits, court dates and all these feelings.
the “ending” is unknown and i wrestle with the not knowing.
but you know what? the “ending” is unknown for ALL of us.
we fool ourselves into thinking we know what’s going to happen with our families.
we have an illusion of control but nothing is certain.
so i pray about all of it.
it’s all in God’s hands. He already knows about all of it. He knows.
i am sharing all of this here not to make you think i am so great for helping kids or that craig isn’t great for not wanting to do this in the beginning.
which is funny now because he is so totally goo-goo over Tiny! He is definitely not “doing this for me” anymore.
he’s participating whole heartedly.
he told me “you can write on your blog that i wasn’t always on board” before i even asked.
i am sharing the whole story so that you see that we struggled to get here.
it was not a quick or easy decision.
but we are both so blessed by getting to care for Tiny these past four months.
the REAL reason i want to talk publicly about any of this is because the need for fostering is SO BIG!
there are over 7000 kids in foster care in kansas right now and no where near enough homes for them.
i am guessing your state is no different.
wouldn’t it be amazing if foster parents were on a waiting list for kids… instead of kids waiting for a home?!
foster care can look many different ways too.
there is long term placement, short term, strictly overnight care for kids that don’t have their placement family yet, respite care to give foster parents a break for a weekend, emergency care that is needed immediately or you could be a CASA volunteer which is where you would advocate for abused and neglected children, to make sure they don’t get lost in the legal and social service system.
you can be married or single, stay home or work full time, have your own children or not, college degree or not, home owner or not… kids need you!
i’ll be answering more foster care questions from Instagram followers in my next post.
but feel free to ask questions in the comments here as well.
and here are some scenes around our house since Tiny entered our lives…